Foxhole Advice: I’m not who I said I was!

Dear Family Foxhole,

I moved to a new school (7th grade, which is the first year of junior high in my new school district) recently and decided to be more outgoing than I was in the past. It worked–kinda. I’ve made new friends, but they expect me to the goofy, loud, opinionated one. This puts a lot of pressure on me to always have some witty comment to say, which means I’m making some borderline rude comments in class that have gotten me in trouble. Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up, and I think my parents are going to be surprised to hear me called a “class clown” (if my teachers are feeling nice) or a distraction (if they are not). When I get home from school each day, I’m basically exhausted from being so much “fun” at school, so my mom and dad think of me as a quiet introvert. I’m not sure how to handle my parents’ reaction, and I’m not sure if I can keep this up!

The Secret Introvert


Dear Introvert,

Well, this is a fine pickle you’ve gotten yourself into. I assume you’ve learned “To Thine Own Self Be True” by now. It sounds like you know who you want to be (less of a smart aleck), but how do you get there?

If your friends are true friends, they’ll let you change in this positive way. They might be confused (After all, you kind of sold them on a person who is different from what they’re ending up getting.), but there is definitely enough room in a friend group for one more quiet person.

And if they don’t let you change, then they aren’t the kind of people who want to hang out with.

And it could just be that there are other people in your friendship group who aren’t getting to be who they want to be, either. If they see you change, they might be inspired to do the same!

Mr. Prickles

Mr. Prickles


Dear Introvert,

Way to go! You thought that you might like life better if you were more outgoing, so you became more outgoing. Then you realized that this wasn’t the right fit for you. I admire anyone who is willing to take on this kind of challenge and do the work to make it happen. Congratulate yourself on taking charge of your social life!

It’s easy to say “just be yourself” but hard to do. The good news is that you do have a good idea of who you are. You’re an introvert. Rejoice! That just means you find that maintaining a lot of relationships and performing in public (like being the class clown) is exhausting, whereas some people find it invigorating.

It really is just as easy as stopping it. Tomorrow, don’t make any sassy remarks. If your friends are egging you on, tell them that you’re not feeling like yourself. Fake looking a little ill when you say it. They’ll think you’re just a little tired. After a few days of this, they’ll back off.




Dear Introvert,

There is one solution to both your problems: Throw yourself on your parents’ mercy. Before that Parent-Teacher meeting, try this:

Mom and Dad, I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve been doing some things at school that I’m not proud of.

Trust me, your parents are immediately thinking of worse things than what you are about to tell them. That’s why they will feel relief when they hear you say:

I’ve not been acting like myself. I was worried about not making friends, so I decided to be more extroverted. But I misunderstood what that meant. I took it too far and have been disrespectful to my teachers on a few occasions. They are probably frustrated with me because I’ve been disruptive in class. But it was only because I wanted the kids in the class to think I was funny. 

Your parents are going to hear this and think you are really self-aware and responsible. So you follow up with your request:

Now I feel a lot of pressure to keep that up. But I don’t like it. It’s not who I am, and it’s making me soooo tired. I’d like to use you all as an excuse to stop. When other kids are pressuring me into doing something stupid or rude, I’d like to say, “If I do that, my parents would send me to military school!” Is that okay?

They’ll agree–and, with that, you let your parents be the bad guys. It’s their job sometimes, and they’ll be glad to do it.




What are we Pickling? Turmeric Eggs

We love eggs so much here that we buy 50+ of them each week. (That makes it sound like I’m raising little Gastons! But I typically make a quiche once per week, and then with our new shakshuka obsession, plus all the hard boiled and pickled eggs…)

Most of the time, we have a jar of pickled eggs–or more than one–going. These are one of our favorites, introduced to us by The Rose Establishment in Salt Lake City. We eat them plain or with salt as a snack; mash the yolks with curry, mayo, and mustard for a deviled eggs, turn them into egg salad for sandwiches, and slice them into salads.

turmeric eggs

Our recipe varies each time we make it, but here is the gist:

  • 3 parts apple cider vinegar
  • 1 part water
  • Salt and twice as much turmeric
  • Yellow onion
  • Hard boiled eggs

To make 12 eggs, boil 3 cups apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 3 tsp salt and 6 tsp ground turmeric. Place onions and eggs in jar, and pour liquid over eggs.

You can also add peppercorns, mustard, or sugar. Because we often serve these alongside red beet eggs, which are relatively sweet, we skip the sugar here.

These pickle pretty quickly and are ready to eat after just 4 hours of refrigeration. They’re a great choice if you have a party to go to in the evening and want to bring something no one else will bring, want to bring something sour or tangy rather than something sweet or fatty, and don’t want to have to spend more than 10 minutes working on it.



Some Songs to Get Your Kids Out of Bed

A friend recently asked for ideas about helping tweens get out of bed. First, I want to affirm that this is a hard task for everyone involved, and if we really loved children, we wouldn’t start their school days so early. Everything we know about child development tells us it’s counterproductive, and I wish that early starts to school would go away forever.

But unless you are lucky enough to live in a school district that works with, rather than against, children’s bodies, you may be stuck waking kiddos up. I’m not naturally a morning person, but I realized a few years ago that if we didn’t make mornings happy and peaceful, then we were 1) starting the day on the wrong foot and would either need to recover or would, more likely, pass the unhappiness along to teachers and classmates who didn’t deserve that and 2) missing out on time that could be good, which was a shame. Life is hard enough with bad mornings.

There is no magic to a good morning, but we have found that music helps. Whether you listen to them or sing them, here are some of the songs we use to help feet get moving in the morning.

(I’m not defending any of these choices as vital to your children’s musical education. I’m just saying that, in my family, the children start moving when we sing them. It is probably a flight or fight response, but it works.)

“Rhythm is Gonna Get You” by Gloria Estefan. “In bed, throw the covers on your head/
You pretend like you are dead/But I know it, the rhythm is gonna get ya.” And if you sing it the whole way through, everyone will eventually be dancing. It’s irresistible.

And if it doesn’t work, add “Conga.”

“1, 2, 3, 4” by Coolio. Little ones may especially like this Muppet version, which features Pepe the King Prawn, one of our favorite Muppets.

“Bombs Over Baghdad” by Outkast. Trust me, you get out of bed fast when you hear your parents yelling “Don’t even bang unless you plan to hit something!” Here’s a mostly kid-friendly version, depending on how you feel about breasts and thongs.

“Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton. (Hey, this is MY list, which means it’s going to include 70s country.)

“Wake Me Up Before You Go” by Wham! It violates the rules of physics to stay in bed when this song is playing. Teenagers will especially like it if you dance like you’re in an aerobics class from the mid-80s.

Our littlest is a new fan of The Hives, which brings joy to my heart. “Walk Idiot Walk” is a fav. Listen for the jinglebells, my favorite part.



What are we pickling today? Red Beet Eggs

Above, at the start of the process.

There are a lot of red beet egg recipes out there, some of them doing some unusual things (cloves? cinnamon?). Ours is simple:

  • 12 hard boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 can pickled beets

Boil the vinegar, water, sugar, and juice from the can of beets. Place eggs and beets in a glass jar, and pour the liquid over. Try to wait to eat them.



Foxhole Advice: Comparing Mothers

Dear Family Foxhole,

I’m a 3rd grade girl. A girl in my class keeps bragging about how much money her mom spends on her (the girl’s) make-up, hair, and nails. I mostly ignore her, but this week she said that my mom must not love me since she doesn’t pay for me to have these things. That really bothered me because my family doesn’t have a lot of money but I don’t want her saying that. What can I do to make Miss Makeup shut up about this?


Dear Upset,

Miss Makeup’s mom spends a lot of money to make her look different than she actually looks. That doesn’t sound like her mom loves her. It sounds like her mom thinks she’s ugly.

You probably shouldn’t say that to her, but remember that your own mom loves you enough not to make you wear makeup.

Mr. Prickles

Mr. Prickles


Dear Upset,

You know that your mother’s love is not measured by how much makeup (or anything else) she buys you. Think about the ways that your mother does show you she loves you. Maybe it is by playing a game with you, reading a book with you, driving you to practice for a sport or rehearsal for a performance, washing your clothes, or going to work to earn money to make sure your needs are met. If you aren’t feeling loved by your mother, you can ask for her to express her love for you in ways that do make you feel loved but don’t cost money.

You don’t need to convince Miss Makeup that your mother loves you. Your love for your mother and her love for you are between the two of you, and this girl has nothing to do with it.

Miss Makeup probably brought your mother into this because you weren’t jealous of her makeup or her mother. Some people, unfortunately, don’t feel like they can enjoy what they have unless someone else is envious of it. When she saw that you weren’t envious of what she had, she decided to go after some thing she knows many kids feel insecure about: their parents and their financial situation.

Neither are her business. Ignore her bragging, but if she brings your mother or your family into it, just look at her straight in the eye and say, “Don’t speak about my family, and I won’t speak about yours.” If she continues, simply get up and move away from her. If you are required to sit next to her, request that your seat be moved.




Dear Upset,

There are three issues here: Her wearing makeup. Her bragging. Her insulting you.

Her makeup isn’t yours to worry about. Forget about it.

Her bragging shows the world that she’s insecure. She should be embarrassed to tell the world that, but you can’t help her there. Forget about it.

Her insulting you is not related to the first things. She’s doing that because she’s mean. You can’t change that, either, but you can prevent her from saying mean things to you by leaving her alone.

Tell her: “I won’t be friends with someone who insults my family. You have to stop now if you want to continue being friends.” If she doesn’t stop, she’s not your friend. You can let her know that by refusing to work or play with her. If she decides that she won’t say those things any more, you can include her again. If the teacher asks what the problem is, explain that Miss Makeup criticize your family, so you aren’t able to work with her but that you would be happy to do so in the future if she is able to refrain from her nasty words. That puts all the responsibility on her, where it belongs.



What’s Are We Pickling? Red Onions & Habanero

And it an old Bubbie’s pickle jar!


Ever see yourself doing something stupid, but you keep doing it because it feels good? That is me, eating pickled red onions and habaneros until my tongue bleeds. Like, I see it about to happen, but I keep right on going.

Try them on your sandwiches, tacos, and salads. And straight from the jar, too.

As with most recipes here, this one is pretty loose. You’re going to need:

  • Sliced red onion
  • White vinegar OR 2 parts lime juice, 1 part orange juice, and 1 part grapefruit juice or 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts lime juice
  • 1 or more habanero peppers
  • Plus, maybe: oregano (Mexican, toasted if you like), orange and/or lemon peel, a bay leaf, whole allspice, whole peppercorns

Place the red onion and any spices in a glass jar. Heat the liquid–or don’t–and then add to the jar. Put a slice in the habanero pepper and drop it in, or finely chop it and add it. Try to wait.

Above, we used a combination of white vinegar and lime juice, plus oregano. We kept the habanero whole this time.


Building our Christmas forest

Goodbye, Christmas!

I realized this year one of the benefits of a live tree: the pressure to take it down.


In addition to our first artificial tree, this year we put up a magical forest of conifers on the mantle. We thought we’d build one each day for Advent and tuck a little candy or other prize under each as a way to countdown the days til Christmas, but we couldn’t stop.

This craft is appropriate for kids of all ages.

Supplies: paper in various shades of green, paint (We use black, white, red, rose glitter, and gold glitter paint), brushes and sponges, tape or small stapler

To do (by Lamb):

  1. Paint some of your sheets of paper with fun designs. We used zigzags, stripes, and even leopard spots.
  2. Cut paper into cones. You might have a preferred way to do this, but we never found one we loved. One idea: trace circles of various sizes (use bowls or saucers or plates), then cut out. Cut in half, and bend each into a cone. Secure with tape or small staples.
  3. Build trees out of a single cone, or stack. If stacking, add fringe or a wavy edge to tiers.
  4. If you feel extra creative, decorate by painting on little birds, squirrels, porcupines, raccoons, etc.!



What Are We Pickling? A month of pickled faves

New Year’s Day is celebrated for some folks with black eyed peas. For others of us, it’s pork and sauerkraut. Maybe cabbage is lucky because it represents money? I don’t know, and I’m not actually a huge fan, but I love pickled foods–especially bright, tangy things that make you forget that it’s winter and replace at least some of the potatoes and other root vegetables we’d otherwise be eating.

We’ll be pickling all month. We don’t can because that takes too long, and really, these  things get eaten so quickly that I can’t get ahead of them. If you have a favorite pickled food, please share it because we’d love to add more foods to our pickle canon. C

Caramel corn (not pickled) and soon–to-be turmeric eggs and red beet eggs.